- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 31, 2011

House Speaker John A. Boehner told reporters Thursday that there is no final deal on a spending-cuts number, countering claims by Democrats that all sides have settled on about $33 billion in cuts.

“There’s no agreement on a set of numbers, and nothing will be agreed to until everything is agreed to,” Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said, adding that the discussions center on the total dollar amount of cuts and legislative add-ons, known as “policy riders,” that the House passed to limit spending on the new health care law, the administration’s environmental efforts and other moves.

Just an hour earlier, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said on his chamber’s floor that “Democrats and Republicans have agreed upon a number on which to base our budget cuts” and said the points of disagreement now are over which programs to cut specifically.

“As I’ve said all along, this isn’t just about dollars and deficits. It’s about principles and priorities, he said. “What we cut is much more important than how much we cut.”

Democrats argue the government should continue to fund all of their priorities and trim from waste, while Republicans argue the government is so broke that cutting from waste is no longer enough, and even some good programs will need to be trimmed.

Fiscal 2011 is now six months old, and Congress has yet to pass any of the basic spending bills to keep the government running. Instead, agencies are operating on stopgap funding, which runs out April 8.

The House passed a bill cutting $61 billion from 2010 spending levels. The Senate rejected that bill but has not produced one of its own, instead preferring closed-door negotiations with Mr. Boehner to try to write a final agreement.